Trump: Mail-in voting presents 'biggest risk' to reelection
ATLANTA (AP) - President Donald Trump said Friday that the increasing use of postal ballot papers is the "biggest risk" to his re-election, and his chances may depend on whether he can successfully block efforts to facilitate postal voting during the pandemic.
Trump's comments were his first to go to high stakes for his multi-million dollar legal campaign to fight mail-in voting. It is because several battlefield countries are involved in heated fights for plans for the November general election and courts are settling guerrilla disputes over how easy it should be to vote in the mail.
"My biggest risk is that we won't win any lawsuits," Trump said in an interview with Politico that was released on Friday. "We have a lot of litigation. And if we don't win these lawsuits, I think - I think that jeopardizes the choice. "
According to health authorities, a postal vote can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But Trump has made it clear that he believes that widespread postal voting would benefit the Democrats. He has, without citing evidence, claimed that postal voting will result in massive fraud, and the Republican National Committee has earmarked $ 20 million to fight democratic lawsuits in at least 18 countries to expand them.
To some extent, Trump's effort seems to be pushing the tide. Many states, including some with GOP leaders, are pursuing plans to facilitate access to postal ballot papers. Wisconsin, a state that joined Trump in 2016, decided this week to send postal ballot applications to almost all voters before the November election, a move Michigan, another swing state, has already taken.
There has been an increase in mail-in voting in the primaries, suggesting that voters can conveniently cast ballots remotely. Many states already have easy access - without excuses.
"The president and his supporters are actively fighting postal voting if this is a controversial issue," said Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice. "In most countries, voters are allowed to vote by mail, and many have chosen to do so."
"The question is not whether they should vote in the mail - it happens. The question is: will we be ready for this change? It is coming. It is happening."
Nevertheless, state legislation and courts have many details to argue about. Democratic lawsuits tend to look for a list of changes to government voting rules - for example, collecting community ballots, a practice that is often mocked as a ballot harvest. They also try to ensure that ballot papers that were only stamped on election day are counted.
Arizona settled a democratic lawsuit on Friday by agreeing to make it easier for minorities and rural people to cast ballots remotely. The state agreed to increase the number of ballot boxes in rural areas, Latinos and tribal areas and to conduct an awareness campaign in Spanish and tribal languages about the absence process.
Four federal lawsuits are pending in Wisconsin, a state Trump won in 2016 with less than 73,000 votes. The state's bipartisan election commission voted this week to post 80% of voters after a chaotic election in April before November.
In Michigan, the state's Democratic Secretary of State sent postal ballot applications to all voters before November.
Trump hit Michigan's train and his party took note of it. In Iowa, the Republican-controlled lawmaker passed a law to prevent the state's secretary of state, also a Republican, from sending an absentee request to voters, like this month's area code, without the approval of a legislative committee. The legislature also passed a law that makes it difficult for the county election officials to correct minor errors in postal ballot papers. It is unclear whether Republican governor Kim Reynolds will sign the bills.
In California, democratically controlled lawmakers officially approve this program in response to a GOP lawsuit against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom's decision to send each voter a postal vote. "Expanding nationwide email voting is a necessity to protect our right to vote and our public health," said Californian Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat.
The action was less dramatic in divided government countries. In North Carolina, a GOP-controlled legislature was passed last week that would reduce the number of witnesses required to sign a voter's request for postal voting from two to one. The law, signed by the democratic government Rory Cooper, also allows voters to request postal ballot papers online or by fax.
The Republican Secretary of State of Georgia is currently developing an online system in which voters can apply for postal ballot papers as he chooses not to send postal ballot applications prior to the November general election after it has been done for the state's main democracy, which has provoked criticism from Democrats.
State election officials said the high cost of sending pre-election applications to 6.9 million registered voters and the enormous workload for local polling stations had caused them to rethink their November plan.
"We are not reducing our efforts," said Gabe Sterling, a top official in the Georgian State Department. "We are refining our efforts so that it can actually be successful with the resources at our disposal."
Democrats in Congress are pushing to send $ 3.6 billion to states to help them revise their electoral systems. Republicans still have to respond to the measure, which is contained in a democratic bill that includes extensive mandates for voting procedures that are considered non-starters in the GOP-controlled Senate.
In Florida, Republican governor Ron DeSantis enacted an executive ordinance that failed to meet the demands of the county’s electoral officers, who had sought a longer early election period and flexibility in consolidating polling stations to address the lack of election workers.
Instead, DeSantis' order would shut down schools on election day so that they could serve as polling stations, government employees would be given administrative leave in the personnel districts, and more time would be given to counting postal ballots in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Associated press writers Scott Bauer from Madison, Wisconsin, Bobby Caina Calvan from Tallahassee, Florida, Aamer Madhani from Washington and Dave Pitt from Des Moines, Iowa contributed to this report.
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